Empathy and Confidence


Social & Communication Skills 2/4: 

Empathy and Confidence


Prepared by Dialogue Diversity

March 2020



NESET NEETs’ Empowerment for Sustainable Employment in the Tourism sector, is a 3-year project, funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment which aims at supporting on a large-scale transnational basis the sustainability of youth integration in the tourism labour market in the NESET beneficiary countries (BCs), by creating conditions for NEETs’ employment and entrepreneurship in various forms of tourism, incl. alternative tourism.

The NESET beneficiary countries are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Romania, whereas Iceland is involved in the project’s implementation as an expertise country.

The Project’s approved Proposal stipulates, among others, that a number of training Modules will be produced to support a Training course addressed to trainees with NEET characteristics in the partner countries. The Modules produced, deal with various types of skills considered to be associated with efforts aiming at strengthening young persons’ skills and upgrading their performance while working in tourism related jobs. One of these Skills’ Groups is “Social and Communication Skills”, while two more Groups, i.e. “Employability Skills” and “Tourism related Entrepreneurship Skills” are also included in the NESET range of training topics.

Four Social and Communication Skills Modules have been produced by DIALOGUE DIVERSITY, for individual skills in that Group i.e. Respect (1/4), Empathy (2/4), Active Listening (3/4) and Open Mindedness (4/4).

Dialogue Diversity would like to acknowledge their staff for their contribution in the Preparation of these Modules.


March 2020


The present Module has been prepared solely for training purposes. Its text does not necessarily claim originality, as, besides the authors’ own contribution, it is also based on material from various other sources considered to be relevant, useful for training purposes and transferable. This is dully acknowledged in the text in various ways. The authors however accept responsibility for any failure to fully record all such instances in the text.

Table of contents

I – Skill´s Group

Skills’ Group: Social and Communication Skills

Final words


II – The Specific Skill

Empathy and Confidence 2/4

Learning objectives


Build relationships with people in the tourist business



Title:  Card Pieces

Title: Square talk

Role-playing: At the Restaurant / hotel







I – Skill´s Group

Skills’ Group: Social and Communication Skills

What are communication skills? Do we really need to work on communicating if it seems like we are pretty good at it already? The answer is a resounding yes! As Stephen R. Covey states: The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques rather than from our own inner core, others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.

This really shows how vital communication is and how important is the way we communicate and interact with others. This is particularly important in the tourism sector. As it noted, communication is the foundation of all of our relationships, forming the basis of our interactions and feelings about one another.

There are many definitions of communication. Basically, communication means little more than ‘to share’. But where the sharing of a chocolate, a house, or other physical objects involves that the one sharing will keep a lesser portion of these objects to him/herself, sharing through communication does not leave the one sharing with ‘less’ than he had before he/she shared his/her thoughts, feelings, ideas, values, perspectives, viewpoints or ideologies. Communication not only involves exchange (transmission, encoding and decoding) of information, but has the possibility to generate new, more informed meanings and understandings for all parties involved. Accordingly, communication is not only about giving or sending information, it is about sharing information and by doing so, accumulating, creating and advancing knowledge. However, many definitions of Communication forget this meaning of sharing and value creation. For example, Wikipedia presents communication as predominantly unidirectional when pointing to it as “the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another”. Merrian Webstar dictionary defines communication as ‘a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior’. And when we communicate, our purpose is also that our message is well understood by our listener(s).

In relation to Social skills, it is also evident their importance in the Tourism sector. What are social skills? Can we improve them? And the answer, again, is a sounded YES.

According to Wikipedia, Social Skill is any competence facilitating interaction and communication with others where social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization. For socialization, interpersonal skills are essential to relate to one another. Interpersonal skills are the ability to communicate, or interact well with the other people, i.e., are the behaviour and tactics a person uses to interact with others effectively. Positive interpersonal skills include persuasion, active listening, delegation and stewardship, among others.

So, it is important to acquire good communication and social skills also because:

  • Effective communication shows respect and value of the other person.
  • It helps us to better understand each other; not all communication is about understanding—some are intended to fight, dismiss, invalidate, undermine, etc.—but it should be!
  • It makes us feel more comfortable with each other and encourages even better and effective communication

Communication and social skills can be developed and improved. Specially, if we daily deal with people, personal or professionally speaking. In the tourism sector, this is even more evident and important.

Some tips can help guide us toward better communication with people in general. According to Australia’s Better Health Channel, the following tips (among others) can improve your communication process and be more successful in achieving your objectives:

  • Set aside time to talk without interruption from other people or distractions like phones, computers or television
  • Think about what you want to say
  • Be clear about what you want to communicate
  • Make your message clear, so that the listener hears it accurately and understands what you mean

  • Listen to the part / ‘partner’. Put aside your own thoughts for sometimes and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants (this is called empathy)
  • Be aware of your tone of voice
  • Remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, sometimes let the issue go, or agree to disagree
  • Don’t jump to conclusions. Find out all the facts rather than guessing at motives.
  • Discuss what actually happened. Don’t judge

Communication skills can be generally categorized as the oral, written and body language skills (Fatimawati et al, 2005; Jackson, 1999; Shamsudin Abd. Rahman, 1997). If tourist workers are able to master these skills and leave a good impression, then every country, and Portugal, in particular, may unfold further steps to further boost the tourism industry.

Tourism workers provide one of the first impressions on tourists in relation to the country. In this sector, when interacting with tourists, qualities such as professionalism, integrity, punctuality and politeness are indicators to lead to satisfaction. Having tourist workers with good generic, social and communication skills is more likely to build good tourist relationships.

So, we should ask:

  1. Does good communication skills contribute to the development of the tourism sector?
  2. What are the main aspects of communication skills that are important for the development of the tourism sector?

Several of the important features in communication and social skills are:

  1. Proficiency in languages such as English and other foreign languages
  2. Oral skills, written and body language
  3. Dress and attire
  4. Appearance and visual communication
  5. Manner of communication
  6. Knowledge of the respective country and common courtesy
  7. General knowledge and professional ethique
  8. Proficiency in formal and informal protocol
  9. Skills of delivery or relaying information to tourists
  10. Study of work ethics, such as honesty, willingness to help without conditions, etc.

Multilingual workers are needed to cater for various foreign nationalities that visit each country. Thus, many tourists without well-trained and experienced tourist guides may give a negative image to the hosting country.

Other aspects that need to be looked into seriously is professionalism of the tourism workers in which human qualities and dispositions are not to be neglected. Some of these qualities, as reflected in the survey done by NESET partnership are: personal character, good personality, i.e., friendliness, patience, and emphatic communication. Another important skill, although not reflected in the survey is appearance. These are virtues that go a long way in pampering tourists to stay longer and spend more. On the other hand, continuous learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills leads to better customer service. Work ethics such as honesty, self-conscience and competency in serving tourists are the foundation of excellence in tourism. These skills are, this way, also important in the Tourism business.

So, companies also communicate through how their employees look (e.g. what they wear), but most important is how employees behave when interacting with customers. The literature on emotional labor (and research indicating how more and more employees need to manage feelings and expressions to fulfil the emotional requirements of their jobs as we continue to move from a manufacturing towards a service- or experience-based economy) is quite extensive and in recent years, much has been written about issues such as complaint management.

Thus, these skills should be learned and obtained. Some of the benefits of obtaining communication skills are as follows:

  1. a) able to communicate information to visitors effectively
  2. b) able to identify an individual’s attitudes closely
  3. c) able to strengthen the relationship with tourists and can attract them to visit again
  4. d) able to solve complex problems and
  5. e) able to build network of relationships with foreign tourists.

Therefore, communication and social skills are essential in creating a good atmosphere in the workplace and ensuring understanding and strong links between “tourist worker” and tourists who visit each country.

We should have in mind teaching social skills with fostering social problems solving skills. However, the social skills taught are individualized to the needs of the students in the group.

The general categories of skills include:

  • emotion regulation
  • dealing with bullying and peer pressure
  • expressing feelings
  • social communication
  • negotiation and conflict resolution
  • conveying empathy
  • self-advocacy
  • age-appropriate behaviour, and
  • planning and organization.

Another very important area is complaints handling with a focus on the opportunity to create loyalty. Service is not defined by not making mistakes, but much rather how these are handled.

To finalize, the following 10 commandments of hospitality offer a good base for developing a professional and positive conduct in client presence:

  1. smile and be positive;
  2. greet all you meet: ‘good morning/afternoon/evening’, ‘you are welcome’, ‘my

pleasure’, ‘excuse me’, etc.;

  1. the answer is ‘yes’, never ‘no’;
  2. a guest’s concern is your concern;
  3. an absolute level of cleanliness and security is each one’s responsibility;
  4. escort guests, do not point;
  5. assist your colleagues;
  6. do not eat, drink, smoke or chat with colleagues in guest areas;
  7. enjoy your work, treating guests and colleagues with respect and dignity;
  8. act as an ambassador of your hotel inside and outside.

Final words:

Good communication is a skill that serves people in every area of life. Even the best communicators make mistakes, let alone those of us still learning how to improve. Imagine a world where everyone knew the emotion behind their message and tried to communicate with assertive kindness. So, think before you speak!

Equipping individuals with effective communication skills results in higher levels of emotional intelligence, higher test scores, lowering incidents of bullying, and improvements in overall mental well-being. There is so much to gain from practicing these skills.

With the omnipresence of technological advances, young individuals need to practice these face-to-face skills more than ever.

Building these skills in all age groups builds a society for empathy and emotional resilience. The more practice kids get in school and at home, the better these skills will become. Adults and kids alike have endless opportunities to change how they speak and address their shared needs.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj-hdQMa3uA : the magical science of storytelling | David JP Phillips | TEDxStockholm

II – The Specific Skill

According to the survey results done by NESET partnership [regarding the need requirements in terms of needs vs already existing skills, available support and demographics of young people, as well as their perceptions, regarding the existing labour market-related challenges and opportunities from a tourism sector perspective], the following 4 specific skills were appointed as most important for a worker in the Tourist business: Respect, Confidence, Empathy and Open Mindedness and Active Listening. Below, the reasons we have found for the importance of Empathy and Confidence skills in the same sector.

Empathy and Confidence 2/4

Learning objectives:

  • Define ‘Empathy’ and ‘Confidence’ in tourism context
  • Give several examples of how to show Empathy and Confidence to others, themselves, and their environment in the tourism context
  • Understand why it is important to show Empathy and Confidence in the tourism context

Empathy is a very important skill. To interact well with others, you must be able to understand how they are feeling. Empathy is especially critical when dealing with clients who come to you with questions or problems. You need to express genuine concern for their issues, as well as helping to solve them.

What most people understand by ‘empathy’: in Goleman’s words, “sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns”.

  • Tune into emotional cues. They listen well, and also pay attention to non-verbal communication, picking up subtle cues almost subconsciously.
  • Are able to help other people based on their understanding of those people’s needs and feelings.
  • Show sensitivity, and understand others’ perspectives.

It may not always be easy, or even possible, to empathize with others but, through good people skills and some imagination, we can work towards more empathetic feelings

Research has suggested that individuals who can empathize enjoy better relationships with others and greater well-being through life.

Commitment to customer service

Whether you’re a travel agent, a hotel manager or a luggage handler, you need to be customer oriented. You will be working with plenty of clients who will require your help, so being able to cater to their needs is a must. If you love helping others and have a friendly, enthusiastic and warm personality, this industry is a great choice. We learn from others how to think about ourselves and how to behave – these lessons affect what we believe about ourselves and other people. Confidence – is the term we use to describe how we feel about our ability to perform roles, functions and tasks. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, the way we look, the way we think – whether or not we feel worthy or valued. People with low self-esteem often also suffer from generally low confidence, but people with good self-esteem can also have low confidence. It is also perfectly possible for people with low self-esteem to be very confident in some areas. AssertiveStanding up for what you believe in and sticking to your principles. You can change your mind if you believe it is the right thing to do, not because you are under pressure from somebody else. Assertiveness, confidence and self-esteem are all very closely linked – usually people become naturally more assertive as they develop their confidence.

Bonus skills include:

  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Teamwork
  • Stress and time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Strategy and innovation

And what about your ultimate goal? If your goal is to be a full-time jetsetter, think about the entry-level positions that might help you get your foot in the door. If your goal is to one day own your own restaurant, explore ways to gain experience in the kitchen or front of house. The trick is to keep seeking opportunities that will propel you towards your long-term goal, developing good work ethic, practicing teamwork, and building on skills as you go.

Confidence: the quality of being certain of your abilities or having trust in people, plans or the future.

One of the biggest challenges tourism businesses face when it comes to marketing their brand is the lack of confidence in implementation – so if you are feeling overwhelmed, please know there are plenty of people in the same boat!

Build relationships with people in the tourist business

You learn pretty quickly that the tourism industry is built on relationships – it’s a matter of who you know, rather than what you know.

So it’s important to be visible and open, as this way you will glean more information and understanding about your product, it’s place in the industry, and how you can best manage it to reach it’s full potential. All which helps to give you more confidence when it comes to marketing your product.

Some key relationship building tactics include, among others:

  • Join your local or regional tourism association – these organisations are there to help you continually improve your product experience, and offer fantastic opportunities to network, join cooperative marketing opportunities, and by and large support your business in the industry.
  • Attend as many networking opportunities as possible – networking, albeit it a little confronting for most people, is the best way to learn more – quicker – and therefore stay ahead of industry. Being on top of your game gives you confidence, not only in the knowledge that you know, but it also gives yourself more time to consider your options, be proactive, rather than reactive.

Think about your positive features and your wins, even the smallest ones!  Celebrating your wins reinforce your confidence, which gives you more confidence to implement without fear of failure.

Boston University School of Management Professors George Hollenbeck and Tim Hall define self-confidence as “our judgment as to whether or not we can do something.” They highlight that judgment is the result of our thinking and is based on our perceptions.

Several common themes mentioned in the tourism business as to help building of self-confidence include experience. We can say “there is no substitute for experience.”

On the other hand, being responsible for making guests feel welcome, tourist workers have to learn how to make small talk any people, including famous people, politicians, and presidents of corporations. Another important aspect is the support of supervisors or managers on one’s work.  Often if the supervisor provides moral support—a belief that his employee can accomplish a task and is trusted, gives them the opportunity for success. Many tourist workers would reiterat that their boss’s emotional support and confidence in their ability to succeed helped raise their self-confidence.

James Burke, former CEO of Johnson & Johnson, fiercely believes ‘you can’t build a business without making mistakes’. People learn from mistakes. Learning from mistakes and overcoming failures may be important building blocks for increasing self-confidence and enabling future successes.

Almost every industry professional offered advice for the graduating seniors starting their hospitality careers. Here is a sampling of their advice:

  • Trust in others—which is a large part of self-confidence since in this industry you cannot just pull off fabulous events by yourself.
  • Every mistake is an opportunity to learn.
  • Set small goals and achieve them one at a time.
  • No one is infallible, everyone makes mistakes, so keep taking chances, learning from your missteps.
  • Self-confidence is something that is not given or taught, but something that you have to gain through experience.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you don’t know how to do something, it’s better than not doing it at all.
  • The important thing is to build your confidence by doing things you’re good at. From there, you can slowly build your way up to difficult tasks that you previously dreaded.
  • You become successful when you make others successful.
  • The first step to building someone’s self-confidence is to give that person knowledge and respect.
  • Remember, it’s the little chutes and ladders along the way that make the game fun.
  • Confidence is a precursor to strong leadership, especially in a group. Be supportive of situational leadership. Have someone who understands your weaknesses to bring out the best in each other.



The resources in this section include tips, techniques, exercises, games, and other activities that give the opportunity to learn more about effective communication, help guide interactions with others, and improve communication and social skills. All the activities have a common goal: they will help anybody become a better, more effective, and more positive communicator. The selected activities take into consideration the tourism sector. The following activities also develop or enhance Empathy and Confidence skills.

Title:  Card Pieces

Objectives: develop empathy, consider other perspectives, build communication and negotiation skills. Learners are first taught four problem-solving strategies to use when they encounter a social problem – Stop, Think, Act, and Check it Out. Then, as they play the game and draw cards with the social skills they need to learn, they are asked to either choose a viable strategy, to explain what they would do, or to role-play. Social problem solving is taught through mediated teaching (careful questioning to elicit problem-solving).

Number of participants: Minimum 6


    • The trainer explains the activity and distribute the pieces of cards
    • Cut each playing card into half diagonally, then in half diagonally again, so you have four triangular pieces for each card.
    • Mix all the pieces together and put equal numbers of cards into as many envelopes as you have teams.
    • Divide people up into teams of three or four. You need at least three teams. If you’re short of people, teams of two will work just as well.
    • Give each team an envelope of playing card pieces.
    • Each team has three minutes to sort its pieces, determine which ones it needs to make complete cards, and develop a bargaining strategy.
    • After three minutes, allow the teams to start bartering for pieces. People can barter on their own or collectively with their team. Give the teams eight minutes to barter.
    • When the time is up, count each team’s completed cards. Whichever team has the most cards wins the round.

At the end, the trainer asks the participants: Which negotiation strategies worked? Which didn’t? What could you have done better?  What other skills, such as active listening or empathy, did you need to use? A discussion/debate will follow and trainer registers the conclusions

Duration: 30 m

Title: Square talk

Nº of participants: limited to the physical conditions you have, minimum 10

Objectives: To develop group/team communication skills and confidence; understand different communication skills and Recognise the importance of communicating effectively.

Material: One blindfold per participant, one long piece of rope per team

Procedures and material:

For this activity, you will need one blindfold for each participant, one long piece of rope for each team.


  • Divide your group of participants into groups of about 5 each.
  • Clear the room so you have as much space as possible.
  • Blindfold each participant
  • Hand them the rope and subtly give individually their task
  • Disorientate each participant individually by moving them a bit, spinning them around, etc.
  • Be aware of time and inform delegates when they have 5 minutes of the 25 minutes left

Rules :

Verbally communicate the following to the whole group, once they are blindfolded:

The objective of the activity is to make a square from a rope. (Stand in the shape of a square with their team).

The following information should be verbally communicated to delegates individually, as they are handed the rope.

Participant A : All team members are blindfolded and must remain so for the duration of the activity.

Participant B : The rope you are holding is approximately  ____  meters in length.

Participant C : The rope you are holding is knotted together to form a circle; it must not be undone.

Participant D : You must not let go of the rope.

Participant E : You will be told when you have 5 minutes of your 20 minutes left.

Allow the teams to work on the activity and inform them when they have 5 minutes left.

Once the teams have given this activity their best shot, use these 5 discussion questions to review the importance of good group communication:

  • Do you feel as a group you communicated effectively?
  • During the Activity, what communication skills did you use effectively?
  • During the activity, what communication skills could you have used to improve performance?
  • How important is communication in the workplace? Why?
  • What key points have you learned about communication from this activity, that you wish to apply in the workplace?

Duration: 25 m

Role-playing[1]: At the Restaurant / hotel

Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind. Positive thinking, practice, training, knowledge and talking to other people are all useful ways to help improve or boost your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mid (your self-esteem) and belief in your own ability, skills and experience. Confidence is an attribute that most people would like to possess.

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves.

Objective(s): to understand the meaning of Confidence, self-confidence and empathy in the working context. This gives people the chance to learn from mistakes, and the empowerment to express their needs during the next uncomfortable situation.

Scenario: Restaurant and/or hotel

Number of participating Trainees – How should Teams be formed?  Pairs of learners.

“Roles” and how will they be allocated: Put the group into pairs and have them play different roles. Have the group brainstorm scenarios from the past where they wish they had been more assertive, imagining they were working in a restaurant or hotel (define the role of each learner). Have a list of possible scenarios ready, just in case the brainstorming doesn’t produce enough opportunities to explore. (supervisor / maid; cook / waiter; receptionist / hotel manager; bar tender / cleaner; etc)

Trainer/Facilitator’s tasks, before, during and after the Activity: takes notes for later discussion.

Duration of the Activity: 30 m

How are participants expected to present the Activity’s results after its completion? After the role play have a group discussion. Then, have two others do another role play changing the respective role and/or scenario.



For the Skills’ Group: Social and Communication Skills, which the series of sessions you are going to participate aims to upgrade and for which specific Learning Objectives have been set, HOW would you rate your existing knowledge?

 My knowledge is practically non-existing



I know very little

I consider my knowledge to be moderateI consider my knowledge to be rather adequateI claim to have a very good knowledge
I understand the meaning of ‘Empathy’ and ‘Confidence’ in tourism context     
I can give examples of how to show Empathy and Confidence to others in the tourism context     
I Understand why it is important to show Empathy and Confidence in the tourism context     


For the Skills’ Group: Social and Communication Skills, which the series of sessions that you have attended aimed to upgrade and for which specific Learning Objectives had been set, HOW do you now rate your knowledge?

 My knowledge is practically non-existing



I know very little

I consider my knowledge to be moderateI consider my knowledge to be rather adequateI claim to have a very good knowledge
I understand the meaning of ‘Empathy’ and ‘Confidence’ in tourism context     
I can give examples of how to show Empathy and Confidence to others in the tourism context     
I Understand why it is important to show Empathy and Confidence in the tourism context     






Having attended training sessions aiming at helping you upgrade your EMPATHY AND CONFIDENCE SKILLS, how do you rate the various elements of your training?

 Very Poor



AcceptableVery satisfactoryExcellent
Training Material
·         Training Handouts distributed     
·         Multimedia presented     
·         Other resources suggested     
Training Methods Used
·         Face-to-Face lectures     
·         Group Activities & Discussions     
·         Customised Learning Platform     
Trainers involved
·         Knowledge of the subject     
·         Level of preparedness     
·         Effectiveness in knowledge transfer